Hollywood has been kind to the shambling brainless masses of the undead – and not just because they are their key demographic. From Zack Snyder’s “Dawn of the Dead” to Edgar Frost’s “Shaun of the Dead,” recent cinema has brought a new edge to the moans and groans of the living dead, and last year’s “Zombieland” deserves to be counted among the ranks of the best brain-eaters out there.
Like all good zombie movies, “Zombieland” doesn’t dwell on the cause of the zombie uprising. The movie simply introduces a virus which reduces the majority of humanity to the biological equivalent of flesh-eating zombies. Hoping to avoid any emotional attachment which might hinder them, the uninfected survivors simply go by the name of their home town – not that emotional attachment is a problem in the beginning, as the two primary survivors couldn’t be more different. Columbus (The Social Network’s Jesse Eisenberg) is a college slacker-turned-rule-obsessed-nomad, while Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) is a one-man-zombie-killing-machine. Columbus is searching for his home town, while Tallahassee is searching for the last Twinkie in existence before it expires. Instead, the two survivors run afoul of sister-sister con artists Wichita (Easy A’s Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Little Miss Sunshine’s Abigail Breslin), who have some dreams (and schemes) of their own. The four call a temporary truce – compounded by Columbus’ growing attraction to Wichita – but as the zombie threat escalates, Columbus and the rest of the survivors find themselves torn between loyalty and survival.
Like “Shaun of the Dead,” “Zombieland” has its fair share of humor, gore and horror. But much like the original “Dawn of the Dead,” “Zombieland” is epic zombie horror set on a sprawling American backdrop, showing the zombie infection from the mansions of L.A. to the 1600 block of Washington DC. “Zombieland” manages to mix horror and humor together in a very clever – and visual – way. In many ways, the film is weaved around Columbus’ rigid system of rules, and every time a rule is applied, it is slickly written out in the background. By the end of the movie, phrases like “Double Tap” and “Check the Back Seats” take on a whole new meaning. Despite the amusement though, the movie really centers around the formation – and alteration – of Columbus’ rules. Because of this clever tweak, I have never seen a zombie movie quite this much fun – or this much human.
As all zombie movies go, “Zombieland” isn’t for everyone. The squeamish will definitely want to steer clear of this movie’s ample blood and guts, but those who don’t mind a couple zombie chomps and spews will be treated to an action-packed thrill ride with its fair share of adventure, one-liners, and of all things, heart (and not just the squirmy, squishy kind.)
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